Moving to Chewonki: My Cabin Family

I remember first hearing our cabin assignments over Zoom, and finding out I was in Orchard cabin with five other girls. In our first meetings together I thought to myself, can this really work? We were all strangers with life experiences that were so vastly different. I wondered how we would ever go from strangers to friends, as suggested by the promising blog posts I read before coming here. Why on earth did I think it was a good idea to randomly move in with five girls to a cabin that needed to be heated with a fire? I hoped I wasn’t being unrealistic.

When I started my first day at  Chewonki, I was extremely nervous, cold, and missing my home of New York City immensely. I was warmed by my kind cabin parents welcoming me and helping me lug my massive suitcases across the field. The moment I stepped into Orchard, I saw every space on the walls covered in plaques from semester students of previous years, each filled with its own inside jokes, friendships, and memories. At this moment, any doubt I had faded away. I realized I was standing in a history of meaningful friendships, and how lucky I was to be part of it all. It feels strange to admit, considering I had been standing there only for a minute, but this cabin was already starting to feel like a place I would grow to love.

Throughout the day, I met the many characters I was going to be living with. There was Val, a girl from Minnesota, who listened to cool music I had never heard of and always wore Converse. Julia, a girl from New York City like me, who was sweet and loved nature. Virginia, a girl from Atlanta, always wearing a flannel and a slight smile. Corrie, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a calm, “go with the flow” attitude. Finally, there was Jenna, a smiley girl from Boston with radiant energy and Girl Scout spirit. I’ll admit, the first days were awkward, sometimes painfully so. We would sit in silence, offering random discussion questions, and a small bit of laughter at times. We went to bed very early, usually falling into silence by 9:00, as we’d retreat to our cubicles to take our masks off and sleep. 

As we have become six feet closer, we have also become a tight-knit family. I am proud to say that the girls in Orchard cabin will be lifelong friends of mine, and even though we spend so much time together, I will never get tired of them. Val will be found doing ab workouts, or dancing to every 80’s song ever. Julia will be reading, or giving giant bear hugs. Virginia will be found eating sunbutter-dipped oreos, knitting, and listening intently. Corrie will be found giving a helping hand, and singing the loudest she possibly can. Jenna will be heard saying, “You got this!” or “I love you!”, brightening our moods. I will be making us a fire, absorbing the warmth of the hearth and the people around me.

We spend our days in Orchard having impromptu dance parties, bursting into laughter, and having the most random, hilarious conversations. When days are rough, we are there for each other, with an ear to listen, or a shoulder to cry on, or just a hug. We often have to force ourselves to leave our never-ending conversations to go to sleep, awaiting even more fun times that the next day holds. Every day I know I have a warm cabin to come home to, and in it, five amazing people I am thankful to have as friends. 

Samari Vann, The Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, NY

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